The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) was initiated in 1996 when the ASEM leaders met in Bangkok, Thailand. ASEM is an informal trans-regional platform for dialogue and co-operation between the two regions and has arisen out of a mutual recognition that the relationship between Asia and Europe needed to be strengthened in light of the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

The ASEM process is based on mutual respect and equal partnership and addresses political, economic and socio-cultural issues, with the objective of strengthening the relationship between our two regions.

ASEM now brings together 46 member states (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom, Vietnam) plus the European Commission and the ASEAN Secretariat.

ASEM holds a Summit every two years, alternately in Asia and in Europe. This is the highest level of decision-making in the process. Besides the attendance of the Head of States, the Summit also features accompanying Ministers, the Head of the European Commission and other stakeholders. Apart from the Summit meetings, the ASEM process is carried forward through a series of Ministerial and working-level meetings, as well as a number of activities arising from it.